Mohammad Mobeen Ludin is one of the 203 students from 87 different countries attending United World College.
As an Afghan, he comes from the country that is considered the front line in the global war on terrorism.
Mobeen Ludin is 19 and in his second year at UWC. Born in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, in 1989, Mobeen’s family was subjected to the collateral damages of the civil war taking place in their country.
In 1992, after a stray rocket had been shot into their house, Mobeen’s family moved to a refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan, where they lived for the next seven years. Mobeen returned to Afghanistan in 2002, a country that was now the front line of the global war on terrorism, where U.S. troops fought and to this day fight against the factions of the Taliban and al-Qaida.
Mobeen sat down over lunch recently to discuss an array of topics ranging from his personal history to politics to Las Vegas.
“In Afghanistan you will hear only the negative picture of the U.S., and in the U.S., you will hear only the negative things about Afghanistan,” said Mobeen in the dining hall of the Montezuma Castle. “My family wanted me to go to a European college, but I said I wanted to go to America. I wanted to check the reality behind these (misconceptions).”
“Coming here, to the UWC, has been very good for me. I have learned that both of our countries and perceptions of each other is distorted behind a political veil. The reality is that not all Afghanis hate Americans and not all Americans hate Afghanis. Understanding gets lost in political translation. It is education that reveals the truth.”
He said he would take back his education to his homeland.
“My educational focus is in economics. I want to help the economy in Afghanistan,” he said. “Health care there is very bad because of economic problems. Foreigners buy and rent everything, which makes the health care too expensive, so the life expectancy comes down. Wood is too expensive, so people die of the cold. Only the black market works, but it is expensive too.”
He speaks about these things realistically, not ideally, the way a mathematician describes a problem: not as an impossibility, but as something that needs to be approached both practically and creatively. It is education that reveals the truth.
What has been his best experience in America so far?
“New Orleans, in Louisiana. We were helping rebuild areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina. As a Muslim, it was my first time staying, sleeping, in a church, which was interesting. I enjoyed the community service. I enjoyed eating and talking with the people there, and their interest in me, as a Muslim from Afghanistan, was the best part.”
How has President Bush’s administration affected his life?
“In mostly negative ways, but also positive,” Mobeen said. “For example, negative because in 2006 the Americans bombarded schools, killing only civilians. This is what causes anti-American feelings. They said they did this because they thought there was Taliban inside. This is not a good reason. If you are going to affect people, kill people, you must not think like that. You must know 100 percent that who you are affecting is your enemy.”
Mobeen pauses. He thinks. “But America has been positive because they are helping to stabilize the government in Afghanistan. They are helping with the democratization of our parliament.”
The students at UWC are zealous about following current events and politics. On the day of the interview, the school had organized a field trip to see Barack Obama speak in Santa Fe. Mobeen planned to go on the trip.
“I support the Democrats, mostly. I like Hillary and Barack. I listen to their speeches; it seems like they are both fighting for change. I support Obama more though,” Mobeen said.
In what ways does he want relations between America and Afghanistan to improve?
Mobeen said, “Well what I like about Obama is he seems to not agree with the war in Afghanistan. I want the president to focus on Pakistan, where most of the attacks are based from. To fight terrorism and terrorists, not the people living there. It seems that is what Obama says, and I hope the words will follow through and bring a big change.”
How does Mobeen like Las Vegas?
“I love the people in town!” Mobeen said, smiling. But a second later the smile is gone and he said, “But I don’t think the government does enough to help the people, to solve the economic problems. Health care is a big problem here too. Perhaps some of the problem is the philosophy of a poor town. When there is no relief from the government, the people have to help the people.”